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My Worst Day of BUD/S.

Friday August 29th 2008 - 4:17 PM EST
Added by: Don Shipley

I was asked in E-Mail “What was the worst day you spent in BUD/S?”

Hell that’s easy, my last day…

No, it wasn’t sentimental; it was the “nothing is fair” thing we had been taught all through training that reared its ugly head on our final day and caused much pain.

Each phase had its own form of an organized beating for the Class caught doing something stupid.

First Phase was the IBS Boat Hike, which amounted to hours of torture with the boats for some infraction.

Second Phase was the “Jock Up Drill” which was hours of doing a variety of exercises with Scuba Tanks and an “I saw God” type of misery.

Third Phase, we did “Flights” which amounted to running a long, steep hill over and over with a wooden or metal pallet on our backs, and very little fun was had…

What brought on an organized beating in BUD/S? Well, cheating was at the top of the list, but that was kinda funny as we were taught to cheat, and encouraged to do it in some cases.

Being a “Small Unit” in SEAL Team, you often go after a “Larger Unit” in combat.

How do you win against a Larger Unit being Commando’s?

You cheat…

We were taught, “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying,” and “Cheat if you must, just don’t get caught.”

It was the “don’t get caught” part that was hard, and as SEALs, getting caught, was a bad thing in combat…

It was also a bad thing in SEAL Training…

It only took a couple runnings of the Obstacle Course in BUD/S before some smart guy in the class suggested a way we could cheat. There were balance logs that had to be negotiated. If you fell off, you had to start again, and he suggested we slip in at night and “shim” the logs so they don’t roll.

Brilliant…  This guy was going far in SEAL Team.

Unfortunately, we never gave a second thought to the fact that all BUD/S Instructors had gone through BUD/S themselves. Even worse, was the fact that the Instructors knew exactly when we’d shim the O-course, which was after running it a few times, because they had also had a smart guy that figured it out as all classes do.

We were beaten stupid…

We didn’t get away with ANYTHING in Second Phase either.  We had become smarter and harder to the Instructors tricks, but again, we failed to remember that they had done the same things as students when they went through BUD/S.

We were beaten silly stupid…

Third Phase, we had them. It was a bold plan to cheat, one we were sure had never been thought of before. We were smart, and would never be caught.

Third Phase was OUR’S.

The plan was simple. We’d only shoot half of the class weapons.

During the weapons phase at BUD/S on San Clemente Island, we’d clean weapons we shot until very late at night. Each morning the weapons were checked to see how well we cleaned them and there was a steady stream of trainees headed for the surf zone carrying their “Failed Weapon” to get wet and sandy.

Meticulous, is the only word to describe how clean they expected the weapons to be, so we devised a plan to get some extra sleep and clean fewer guns at the same time.

Broken down into squads, the Instructors would take one squad at a time for “Contact Drills’ where we’d simulate enemy contact and we’d practice how to get out of it by maneuvering. 

The rest of us sat and waited for our turn and plotted our next move.

As the first squad came back, and the next squad went out, we’d quickly switch weapons with the first squad.

Try and follow the bold thinking…

Squad one now had clean weapons and squad three, who had not gone out yet, had the first squads dirty ones to shoot. When squad two came in with dirty weapons, they would switch them with squad fours clean ones.

This would go on throughout the day and night, and at the end of the evolution, only half the class weapons were dirty, and the other half were clean, saving many hours of cleaning as we’d all pitch in and clean half the weapons.

It worked, and we laughed and joked while cleaning them. Having gotten over on the Instructors we became giddy with excitement, that we’d continue this throughout Third Phase and become the “Best Rested” class in BUD/S history.

The tent flaps opened a short time later and the Instructors entered.

We finished cleaning the weapons in the dark, cold, Pacific Ocean that night because we forgot that they had gone through BUD/S as well.

Dam, we dum…

Back at the compound in San Diego, Third Phase was over except for one more O-Course. We’d graduate the next morning, no more runs, no more swims, just one more O-course and some paperwork that day and we were free men.

Each Phase in BUD/S the class is assigned a “Proctor.” Our Third Phase Proctor, as each Phase Proctors are, the closest thing to an Instructor friend you have. They take pride in how the class performs, they look out for you, they solve problems, there the first guys you go to when something is wrong.

Proctors are there to help.

Proctors are also Instructors. Enough said…

Our Third Phase Proctor was beloved by the class. A no-nonsense SEAL, he certainly helped me and the others get through training, and we learned much from him.

He gave us our final brief that morning concerning gear turn-in, and graduation. He congratulated us and said it was his pleasure to Proctor such a fine class and he appreciated all our hard work.  We were his last BUD/S Class, as he’d go back to a Team soon.

We were his best Class, and he shook each mans hand and offered a final Hooyaa for us and a secret that he would share as we did our final O-course.

He said that it was customary in BUD/S that on the final O-course the class was allowed to cheat. He said, “BUD/S is over, have fun one final time, you’ve completed the “Toughest Military Training in the World.” 

We HOOYAA’D so loud I though the roof might lift off the building and we ran to the O-course.

On each O-course we ran, the Instructors for that phase stationed themselves at different obstacles throughout the course. Our final one would be no different.

Being one of the fastest guys on the O-course, I started before most guys and blew past the hardest obstacles ignoring them and laughed and screamed, just as the guys in front and behind me were doing.


Half way through, I began to notice the Instructors were not laughing with us as I’d run past them with a grin, giving them the “Thumbs Up” signaling we were all fellow SEALs now.

Turns out, our buddy the Proctor had duped us.

There is no custom in BUD/S that says you can cheat on the last O-course, but there is a custom that each Third Phase Proctor tells the Class there is!!!

Our last day in BUD/S, was our worst day in BUD/S.

One final lesson on “Nothing is Fair.”

When I arrived home that day, my wife remarked, “I’m glad you’re back, I had a feeling something terrible had happened to you today!”

I replied… “WELL, NO F**KIN SHIT …”

We were beaten SILLY, SILLY, STUPID, and graduated the next morning.



Comment by: Vivek
Tuesday August 21st 2018 - 7:12 PM EST

Wow thats crazy It doesn surprise me though after all of the things I have heard about regarding how hard BUDs is and how hard being a SEAL is. It makes sense that they would want to continue to shove this lesson down your throats. Thank you for your service Senior Chief

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